I Hated That Book!

It happens. Someone in your book group hated the assigned book and doesn’t think it’s even worthy of discussion.

But is liking the book even important?

What to ReadMickey Pearlman says “no.” She offers this sage advice in What to Read: The Essential Guide for Reading Group Members and Other Book Lovers:

Ban at the outset any discussion that focuses on, “Did you like the book?” This is not a popularity contest, and any worthwhile piece of fiction, no matter how beloved or detested, teaches the reader something. The real issue is the choice of what to read.

Years ago I was in a group and read two books written by a renowned author (I’ll withhold the name even though he’s deceased). I didn’t like either story. But the group discussions were fascinating and stand out in my memory to this day. And so, my answer to the question “Is liking the book even important?” is a definite “no.”

That said, you probably don’t want to read a lot of books you don’t like. And that’s the beauty of a theme book group, where members select their own titles according to a pre-determined subject. Everyone is happy.

I’ll write more on starting a theme group in an upcoming post.


How does your book group respond when a member doesn’t like the assigned book?

Do you think it’s important to like a book group selection?




I Hated That Book! — 4 Comments

  1. A local book group read my first novel and invited me to talk about it. No sooner than I was introduced than one member said she hated my book. If it hadn’t been a club book, she wouldn’t have finished it.

    The leader tried to silence her, but I wanted to know where I lost her. On. The. First. Page. I thanked her for her comments and for sticking it out to the end. She laughingly said, “Don’t count on me to read the sequel.” I laughed right back. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”

    Did I agree with her comments? No, but I understood them. She had many good things to say about some of the characters, so I paid a lot of attention to her. Since I run into her in the community occasionally, she reminds me she won’t read the sequel. It’s become a running joke/promise…

    Do we have to like the book we read? No, but we can give it a fair read and engage in a positive discussion.

    • Betsy, I haven’t had someone tell me in person that she hated my book. If that happens, I hope I handle it as well as you did.

  2. You know, Morgan’s Guild, one of the “other” book clubs that has outlived Creatures ‘n Crooks Bookshoppe, has been doing themes since September 2008. Hard to believe it’s been almost 7 years but we all love it and we’ve come up with about 75 themes over the years (and have rejected a few more for lack of interest). Does that mean we always stick to the month’s appointed theme? Of course not—one or more of us can be counted on to go off on a tangent but who cares? We’re talking books and that’s what matters, almost as much as the purely social reasons for being in a book club 😉